Oklahoma Vital Records
This entry was originally written by Wendy Bebout Elliott Ph.D., FUGA for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.
Statewide recording of births and deaths began in October 1908, although compliance was incomplete for several years in most counties and for as much as two decades or longer in others. Registration was mandated in 1917, but it was another decade before 90 percent compliance was attained. Although county clerks record births and deaths and provide information on request, certificates are available only from the Vital Records Section, State Department of Health, 1000 N.E. Tenth St., P.O. Box 53551, Oklahoma City, OK 73152 www.health.state.ok.us/program/vital/brec.html. Purpose and relationship statements are required. Early birth certificates contain much less information than those recorded currently.
Since statehood, marriage and divorce records are maintained by the clerk of the court in the county in which the license was issued or divorce granted. Some marriage records are also available at the county level for Oklahoma Territory before statehood. Some of these have been published, such as Frances Murphy Bode, Oklahoma Territory Weddings (Geary, Okla.: Blaine County People and Places, Pioneer Book Committee, 1983), based on newspaper notices and county records for Blaine, Caddo, and Kingfisher counties. Numerous publications for marriage records are included in Laura Martin, Oklahoma Marriages: A Bibliography (Oklahoma City: Library Resources Division, 1996).
Tribal records at the Oklahoma Historical Society (see Oklahoma Archives, Libraries, and Societies) contain some earlier birth records in relationship to land allotments (see Oklahoma Land Records) as well as death records. Children of mixed marriages may be included in the births.
Some Native American and county vital records have been published by individuals and organizations. Several examples follow:
Ashton, Sharron Standifer. Indians and Intruders. 5 vols. Norman, Okla.: Ashton Books, 1996–2002. These publications include birth, marriage, and death records as well as numerous other abstracted records.
Bogle, Dixie. Cherokee Nation Births and Deaths, 1884–1901. Utica, Ky.: Cook and McDowell Publishers, 1980. Available at the Family History Library (FHL) in Salt Lake City as well as numerous other libraries.
Oklahoma Genealogical Society. Index to Marriage Records, Oklahoma County, O. T., 1889 to 1907. Oklahoma City: Oklahoma Genealogical Society, 1993.
Talkington, N. Dale. Birth and Death Notices in Oklahoma and Indian Territories from 1871. Houston, Tex.: the author, 1999. Abstracts of nearly 2000 records.
Tiffee, Ellen, and Gloryann Hankins Young. Oklahoma Marriage Records, Choctaw Nation, Indian Territory. 10 vols. Norman, Okla.: University of Oklahoma Press, 1969–78. Individually indexed, the data was abstracted from U.S. court records, second division for the period 1890 to 1907. Area covered includes today’s counties of McCurtain, Latimer, Hughes (part), LeFlore, Bryan (part), Pittsburg, Choctaw, Atoka, Haskell, Pushmataha, and Coal (part). This set is available at the FHL as well as numerous other libraries.
Some marriage records for the Five Civilized Tribes and some other tribes are also at the Oklahoma Historical Society. Others are at the National Archives-Southwest Region (see page 12). Nonnative settlers whose marriages were recorded in U.S. Federal District Court records for Indian Territory are included. Marriage records (June 1890–1907) in Indian Territory may be located in the office of the court clerk in either Muskogee or Pittsburg counties. After 1895, marriage records may be found in county court clerk offices in Carter or Craig. Still others may be found in Atoka, Bryan, Latimore, and LeFlore counties. Creek County marriages may have been recorded in the cities of Bristow, Drumright, Sapulpa, or Muskogee, the latter now in Muskogee County. There is no centralized index for these marriages.
Some indexes to marriage records are available online, such as those in the Chickasaw Nation at www.chickasawhistory.com/m_index.htm; and more than 2000 marriage notices taken from newspapers (1898–1906) for Old Greer County, Oklahoma Territory (today’s Greer, Harmon, and Jackson counties) at www.rootsweb.com/~okgreer/olgrmarr.html.